Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19

Friend to Friend

I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education. For the first two years of college, I took the basic courses in Math, English, History, and Science required for all degrees. I then began taking courses that I assumed would prepare me to teach elementary school. During my last year of school, I reached the required Student Teaching block.

The Student Teaching block was spent in an actual elementary classroom under the supervision of an experienced teacher. Mrs. Roberta McShan was my supervising teacher and a magician in the classroom. She taught third grade and soon became my role model as a teacher. I learned more about teaching in that one semester than I had learned in all of the education courses I had taken.

Every child in her classroom absolutely adored Mrs. McShan. I watched carefully and soon learned why. One of most important lessons I learned from Mrs. McShan was the importance of listening and how to make the person you are listening to feel important.

When a child came up to ask a question, Mrs. McShan stopped what she was doing and turned toward the child. She then gently placed the fingertips of her hand under the chin of the child and tilted that little face up toward hers. She looked the child in the eye and listened to every word the child said. Everyone in that classroom knew they were not to interrupt if Mrs. McShan was listening to one of their classmates.

When I pray, that is how I picture the Father responding to me. He stops … turns toward me … and listens.

Every relationship begins with listening. Listening is hard work and something we are not prone to do well.

I think that is what James had in mind in James 1:19 when he wrote the directive, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

I seem to read that verse backwards – slow to listen and quick to speak. I tend to use listening time as an opportunity to prepare the eloquent things I am going to say when the person speaking to me stops talking.

I know our Father loves it – absolutely loves it – when we, His children, stop in the middle of our busy lives for no other reason than the fact that we love Him and just need to talk with Him. When I pray, I picture His head turning toward me, to the sound of my voice.

He smiles, knowing that “Mary wants to talk with Me.” Yes, He is concerned with every ordinary detail of every ordinary day, but I suspect His greatest pleasure is found in the fact that we just need to talk to the One we love.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about – unless you are willing to listen. When we listen to people, we validate them. We invite them into our lives and give them the most precious gift we posses – time. Loving your neighbor is not something you feel. It is something you do. It’s the act of sacrificing your own needs and desires for the sake of someone else.

It is time for us to put away our sermons, save our advice, and simply listen to the people God has placed in our lives. Talking is sharing, but listening is caring. It’s time for us to just listen.

Let’s Pray

Father, I want to thank You for loving me. I praise You for the privilege and gift of prayer. I want to learn how to turn to You quickly and easily as I go through every moment of each day. I have to admit that I don’t fully understand how You can love me like You do, but I cherish that love and the freedom it offers me to approach the throne of grace, confident that You will hear my voice. Thank You, Lord.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

I want to encourage you to keep a journal of your journey with God. Carry it with you in your purse, briefcase or diaper bag. Write out your prayers to Him, and then record the answers when they come. From time to time, look back over your journal entries and celebrate what God has done in your life.

More from the Girlfriends

The children in my life are definitely some of my greatest teachers – especially in the area of prayer. I once heard the story of a grandpa who stopped at the door of his granddaughter’s room so he could listen to her pray. He soon realized that she was simply reciting the letters of the alphabet. When he tried to correct her, the little girl responded, “Grandpa, I don’t know exactly what to pray, so I’m just saying all the letters of the alphabet, and God can put them together for me.”

If you really want to learn how to walk with God, check out Mary’s Book, 10-Day Trust Adventure. It will teach you how to walk by faith and trust God in every area of your life.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

3 Responses to “The Art of Listening”

  1. Cathy Webster says:

    Mary, I was moved by your statement about everyone you meet is fighting a battle etc. How true. I can think of manytimes where dear friends have listened and not judged me and I have felt loved and comforted. And yet, how many more times have I interrupted or formulated a reply in my head while someone is talking/arguing. As a social worker, definitely a challenge for me to love my neighbour, especially with difficult clients at work. Thank you God, for using Mary to speak to my heart.

  2. Diane says:

    As I read this I thought of how well do I listen to God when He is trying to talk to me? I am usually so consumed with my requests and business that I seldom stop and really listen to His still small voice as He speaks to me. Oh God…..that I would just be quiet before you….God speak to me..Open my heart Lord. I want to hear you and see you and breathe you.

  3. JEANNE BROWN says:

    Mary.This article made me cry especially because I am at my most vulnerable state in life and I know God hears my cries but it still seems like I am lost and so alone. Our adult daughter died over Oct. 8th 2015 of a drug overdosed. Many other issues surrounding her death but what hurts the most is my church,primarily my Pastor not supported being there to support us. Yes for the first month or so many people came over but as time went on not a one person even took the time out to call and check on is to see how we are doing. If we missed more than 2 Sunday services we may get a text checking in but that’s about it. It really hurts especially because this is a place where i would like to think people are suppose to care about others who are going through such a life changing experience. I realize we all have our personal struggles but for the life of me I can’t seem to grasp how could they just expect for me to return to the old person I was beforehand and just move forward. I can’t just simply get over it as I know they would prefer or at least their lack of compassion makes me feel that way. I know I should just look for another church to go to becasue I am so badly broken (yet I disguise it very well and still tend to others who are going through a trying tume ir need a hand in something). I feel so vulnerable at this point in my life and I really know i need to be cared for spiritually. I especially cried when I read it’s time to put away our sermons and stop giving advice and just listen. If only that were true in my life. Please pray for my family. I’m asking God for the courage to go and visit other churches. I do t want to disappoint anyone but at the same time I have to be concerned about my soul and my salvation. Thank you for the words of encouragement!!!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8